The Calendar Is A Changin’: The Pros and Cons of Dartmouth’s New Schedule
By Kelsey Anspach, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, September 14, 2012
Though good old Dartmouth may boast about its long-held traditions, some of our proud ways haven’t always stayed exactly the same. With this new school year came a new academic calendar that moved the start of Fall term to earlier in September and brought us back here a couple of weeks earlier than in years past. The change also affected the way our school year is structured. Now, winter break lasts about seven weeks, DOC First-Year Trips overlap with the conclusion of Summer term and ’16s have a slightly shorter Orientation week to mingle in the blissful almost-nothingness that is not at all representative of what life at Dartmouth is truly like. With every change comes both good and bad, so let’s take a look at some of the ways — both obvious and not-so-obvious — that these changes in the calendar might affect you this year.
More students have the opportunity to actually go home for Thanksgiving and stay there through the holiday season, spending these days the way they were meant to be spent: with family and friends. For the environmental types, this also means fewer carbon emissions from travels. Yay! For everyone else, it means that you can spend the money you would have spent on that extra plane ticket on a shopping spree at the new J. Crew store. Unless you’re a guy, in which case you likely will not be filling your closet with colorful cardigans.
We almost start school at a normal time! Getting back here a couple of weeks earlier means that those of us who go home before the start of the term spend less time complaining that life is incurably boring because all of our hometown friends have already gone back to college. Our parents and everyone else can stop nagging us about when we’re going back to school — or if we even go to college in the first place.
We get a break between the Fall and Winter terms that’s long enough to actually do something with our time. Unlike an awkwardly long but not-long-enough break that doesn’t afford us time to do anything substantial, Dartmouth students have enough time to cleverly take advantage of study, work and travel opportunities that most other college students can’t. Yet another reason why the D-Plan affords us awesome opportunities that aren’t found elsewhere.
We get to spend more time basking in Hanover’s super-short warm season and no time in the cold month of December.
You no longer have to think about doing work during Thanksgiving break at the end of Fall term, and you won’t have finals looming over your head during a time that’s meant to be enjoyed with your family.
The shorter gap between the Summer and Fall terms means previously separate schedules now overlap. Since the first ’16s arrived on the last day of Summer term classes, sophomores had to watch trippees dancing on Robo lawn while slaving away in the library. Some sophomore athletes began preseason as they prepared for their final exams. Some sophomores leading First-Year Trips didn’t have the opportunity to go home or go away for vacation. Meanwhile, though many people praised the shorter Orientation this year, trippees on Section J barely had any time to adjust and had to leave the Lodge early, returning on Sept. 5, the day after Orientation began.
The boring, seemingly never-ending time that we spend at home wishing that our hometown friends were also back from college is transferred to the chunk of time between Thanksgiving and the middle of December.
If we don’t make enough plans for our break, it could mean a mind-numbingly boring couple months. We don’t want to make that mistake, but it’s not like we can spend excessive amounts of time planning for the future — we have enough to do at the moment. Also, there’s no excuse for doing absolutely nothing but watching Netflix and eating Ben & Jerry’s on the couch for seven weeks. Yet even if we’re doing cool things over break, we’ll still spend nearly two months before going back to school in January, meaning friends and family will still have a reason to question whether we actually go to college. We might even begin wondering if we do, too.
We don’t get to spend the last days of the summer enjoying our free time and squeezing in some final beach days. Instead, we’ll be in class — and maybe on the Green too, but make sure to bring that 200-page reading you have due tomorrow.
There’s no excuse to skip classes for travel time for the holidays. But at the same time, this definitely makes our professors happier, and it’s probably a good thing that classes aren’t missed in the first place.
Even though schedule changes in the Fall term mean significant changes for our vacation and the time between summer and fall, change isn’t always just good or bad. For most people, the pros and cons balance each other out.